Plunderer and Protector of Cultural Property: Security-Intelligence Services Shape the Strategic Value of Art
Journal of Art Crime, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 25-40, 2009
Posted: 5 Jul 2011
Date Written: 2009
International conventions that criminalize wartime abuse of cultural property and bilateral treaties that target trafficking in antiquities reflect evolving consideration for looted art in foreign policy. Since the poignant plunder of Jewish collections by Nazi authorities, restitution of artworks has garnered political clout, and looting of developing nations during the Cold War era compounded the significance of cultural property in foreign affairs. In parallel, the increasing financial volume of the art market over the past half-century has attracted the attention of transnational organized crime and has implications for funding of terrorist groups. This paper examines how security-intelligence services of World War II and the Cold War have controlled the looting and recovery of fine art and antiquities. The examination reveals that, in the post-Cold War period, the areas of application for foreign intelligence on looted art have expanded from diplomacy to security policy.
Keywords: cultural property, art, antiquities, looting, foreign intelligence, security services, foreign policy, international security, illicit markets
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